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Good news

michael ordman

A key feature of the upcoming festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles) is the Arba Minim (four species).  When put together they symbolize the human body – the focus of Israel’s medical, scientific and humanitarian work. 

One of the four species is the Lulav (palm branch), which symbolizes the human spine.  For those with inoperable spine injuries, the phenomenal success of the NASDAQ launch of Israel’s ReWalk and its amazing exoskeleton, brings closer the day when they may be able to walk again.  However, where spine surgery is still an option, this new video from Israel’s Mazor Renaissance emphasizes the main advantage of Mazor’s unique robot system – 100% accuracy every time.

Israeli medical research and innovative therapies treat all areas of the body.  As antibiotics rapidly become ineffective, Israel’s Atox Bio has been awarded $24 million by the US Biomedical R&D Authority to help develop its AB103 treatment for severe infection. AB103 uniquely modulates the patient’s immune response, against which viruses and bacteria cannot develop any resistance. Next, approximately 12% of US citizens and many in Europe suffer from the liver disease Non-Alcoholic Steato-Hepatitis, or NASH, for which there is currently no treatment on the market. So the decision of the US Food and Drug Administration to award Fast Track Designation to Israeli biotech Galmed for its Aramchol treatment of NASH is extremely good news for everybody concerned.  Finally, scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered how circular RNA is produced.  The mysterious molecule is associated with degenerative muscle and brain diseases. The finding can help lead to new treatments.

Israel strives hard to help those with a less than perfect body.  The charity Beit Issie Shapira won Microsoft Israel’s “Innovate for Good” competition for its “IssiePlay” imaginative computer game for children with disabilities.  Beit Issie benefits 30,000 Israeli disabled children and adults.  Time Magazine named Israel’s Adi Altschuler as one of its six “Next Generation Leaders.”  27-year-old Adi created “communities of kindness” by establishing Krembo Wings – a nationwide youth movement that runs after-school activities for children with disabilities. But I was particularly moved watching this beautiful video of Erez, one of 150 Israelis with severe “Williams syndrome” disorder, who is introduced to a horse on a farm in Israel.

Parents of young, growing bodies will appreciate three Israeli developments.  Israeli scientists have discovered a link in the brain between remembering what you ate and where you ate it.  Children who say they “don’t like” a particular food could be persuaded to eat it if they re-tasted the food in a different place.  Meanwhile, two Israeli baby-food executives have developed a new vegetable-based product called INDI (Innovative Non Dairy Infant formula).  It provides a solution for babies who cannot tolerate cows milk.  It also doesn’t contain soy, which can affect a baby’s hormones. But for the millions in Vietnam who rely on milk products, this video by Israel’s afimilk, highlights its implementation of the largest dairy farm project in the world.

In the four species, the myrtle leaf symbolizes the eye.  Professor Richard Horton, editor of UK medical magazine “The Lancet” certainly had his eyes opened when he saw at first hand Jews and Arabs treating and being treated at Haifa’s Rambam hospital. What Prof Horton said with his mouth (symbolized by the willow leaf) was encouraging. We wait to see if it has changed his heart (symbolized by the citron).  He will no doubt be aware that Israeli doctors have saved at least 1200 Syrian lives (six more in the past week).

An old Jewish blessing states, “You should live for 120 years” and Israel does so much to ensure that our bodies last for as long as possible. So it is quite remarkable that Israel’s oldest hospital, Jerusalem’s Herzog Hospital, is celebrating its 120th birthday and is still expanding. After all, Herzog is Israel’s foremost center for geriatric health care, treatment and research.  In parallel, Israel’s Science Ministry is to give grants totaling up to 15 million shekels ($4.5 million) in 2015 for scientists working on practical solutions for the elderly. The above articles, plus many more, suggest why Israel’s life expectancy is the 4th highest in the world.  The following video gives some other reasons.

I conclude by wishing 90-year-old Aviel Hangshing a healthy future as he brings both body and soul to Israel, fulfilling a dream he has held for so many years. Hangshing is the most senior of the lost tribe of Bnei Menashe to arrive from India so far.  He can take comfort from the continuing story of Yisrael Krysztal who arrived in Israel in 1950 at the age of 47 having survived Auschwitz.  Yisrael has just celebrated his 111th birthday, in which two Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer players presented him with a team shirt with the number 111 on it.  He might not be in the starting line-up for Maccabi’s next match, however!

Wishing every body a happy and healthy festival.

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.


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